Investigating the Chinese Threat: Military and Economic Aggression

A report from the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing on Wednesday, March 28, 2012. Link to the Committee event page.

A report from the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing on Wednesday, March 28, 2012. Link to the Committee event page.

Date Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Time 10:00 AM EST
Location Room 2172 of the Rayburn House Office Building

Witnesses

Mr. Dean Cheng
Research Fellow, Asian Studies Center
The Heritage Foundation

Mr. John J. Tkacik, Jr.
Senior Fellow and Director of the Future Asia Project
International Assessment and Strategy Center

Larry M. Wortzel, Ph.D.
Commissioner
United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission

Taylor Fravel, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Political Science, Security Studies Program
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The House Foreign Affairs Committee chaired by Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) convened a hearing this morning to assess the military and economic threat posed by China’s rise. Witnesses and committee members discussed a wide range of issues, from the PRC’s growing aggressiveness in its territorial claims, to persistent imbalances in its trade relationship with the U.S., to the risks to U.S. national security from Chinese economic espionage, cyber warfare, and support for other authoritarian regimes around the world.

From the outset, members made clear that the continuing military threat to Taiwan by the PRC was one of their chief preoccupations, with ranking member Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) admonishing China during his opening remarks to renounce the use of force in its political dispute with Taiwan. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), citing his experience as founding co-chair of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, specifically asked the witnesses to address the current nature of China’s threat to Taiwan. He noted that the few hundred missiles which the PRC had aimed at Taiwan when he was first elected to Congress in the 1990s had now grown to an arsenal totally over 1600.

During the question and answer session, Congressman Berman asked the panel their opinion about the sufficiency of the upgrades to the model A/B F-16s that the Obama administration offered to Taiwan last September. Dean Cheng, of the Heritage Foundation, pointed out that the upgrades were for aircraft which are already 20 years old, while the model C/Ds that Taiwan has been requesting are intended to replace the even older planes in Taiwan’s fleet. He said the bottom line is that with only the upgraded A/Bs, Taiwan’s air force will shrink in size as a matter of simple attrition.

Multiple lawmakers also expressed concerns that steps by the Ma Ying-jeou administration in Taiwan to engage economically with the PRC is resulting in Taiwan’s increasing over-reliance on the Chinese economy, which is accompanied by Chinese dominance over Taiwan’s politics and foreign policy. John Tkacik, former U.S. foreign service officer, told the committee that if the trend continues, Taiwan will soon depart the community of Asian-style democracies to rest firmly within the sphere of China’s political influence. In his opinion, the Ma government “has a China policy, but it does not have a U.S. policy.”

Congressman Chabot asked if the trend is irreversible. The witnesses pointed out that while the government of President Ma was put into office by the voters of Taiwan in a democratic process, and that as Americans they were not in a position to tell the Taiwanese what is in their best interest, a stronger and less ambiguous stance from the United State would help Taiwan to resist Chinese political pressure. Tkacik added the net effect of Taiwan policy by multiple U.S. administrations have given people in Taiwan the impression that the U.S. has “cut Taiwan loose,” and thus they have no choice but to elect the candidates who will be more accommodating toward the PRC. Cheng advised that the U.S. implement a “consistent strategy, and persistent action” with regard to all of its alliances in East Asia in order to help counteract this impression.

In response to a question by Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) about the possible repercussions to U.S. national security if the trend of Chinese dominance over Taiwan continues along the trajectory set by President Ma, Tkacik outlined the military assets that would fall under China’s control with Taiwan’s political integration into the PRC, including sophisticated basing infrastructure, advanced radar capabilities and naval bases near Japanese territory.

Congressman Chabot also used part of his allotted questioning time period to comment on the continued incarceration of former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian, calling the “criminalization of politics” by the current Taiwan government “a real tragedy,” and urged Ma Administration to deal with the issue soon.

The members of the committee in attendance at the hearing were:

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (chairman, R-FL)
Howard Berman (ranking member, D-CA)
Christopher Smith (R-NJ)
Dan Burton (R-IN)
Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)
Elton Gallegly (R-CA)
Donald Manzullo (R-IL)
Ed Royce (R-CA)
Brad Sherman (D-CA)
Albio Sires (D-NJ)
Gerald Connolly (D-VA)
Karen Bass (D-CA)
Jean Schmidt (R-OH)
Steve Chabot (R-OH)
Ted Deutch (D-FL)
Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE)
Ted Poe (R-TX)
Mike Kelly (R-PA)
Bob Turner (R-NY)

Posted with permission by the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA)

  • published this page in Blog 2015-11-01 14:06:09 -0800

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